This is Jennifer Anselm, from the same orphanage in Tanzania as Jeni Joseph (there are 4, so this is Jeni 1, Jeni Joseph is Jeni 2). We’ll just call her Jeni A. Jeni A. has lived at the orphanage since it opened in 2009. She previously lived with her grandmother after the death of her parents from HIV related problems. Her grandmother was completely destitute and had to make a choice between her and her younger sister since she was not capable of caring for both. They do come to visit her at the orphanage. Jeni A. has consistently been at the top of her class (she has scored as high as first place in her class rankings), and is recognized by all the other children in the orphanage as their leader. She has made herself personally in charge of all her fellow first graders. The teachers trust her to be the delivery person with correspondence for the orphanage administrators, and to distribute things like pencils and rulers because she is always fair and thorough. Jeni A. currently wants to be a doctor to help children in similar situations as her and her “family” at the orphanage.
At the end of the 2012 school year, Jeni ranked 31 out of 104, with a high B average. Congratulations, Jeni! We also received a wonderful Christmas letter from Jeni.
We have accepted Jeni for a post-secondary scholarship for her studies! We are so proud of her answers on her application, and we are delighted to continue to be able to be a part of her journey. Jeni is one impressive young woman, and we are very excited to see what she does with all her hard work in school.
Jeni is doing really well in school! She sent us some pictures of a recent project that got excellent grades. She says she and only a couple other students did well on the project. She also sent us some answers to some basic questions we asked her, which we’ve included here. We are so proud of her and how well she is doing. It is just wonderful to see how she is thriving, and how she has grown. Our contact Greg said that when she originally got to school, she was the subject of some bullying and clique behavior from her classmates, due to the fact that she came from a poor background in a rural area and was younger than them. Now, everyone comes to her for help, and she was voted class prefect, kind of like class president. What an amazing woman.
- What year are you in school and how many years will your study for this subject? Am in my second year of studying Biomedical Equipment engineering diploma course. I will take this diploma course for three years before joining for a bachelor of degree.
- Describe what you are most proud of accomplishing this year in your studies, and why. First am really proud to accomplish my last year course with a nice GPA. And to accomplish my idea of a wireless wheelchair project prototype is another story. I can now see for myself that to what am taught I can work for it. I really like to become a Biomedical Equipment Engineer.
- What has been the hardest this year in your studies? My school weather conditions. it has been somehow a challenge to many students. It has been raining for this three months. And cold too.
- Teach us a lesson you learned from one of your classes. Having good GPAs and finishing studying with good results isn’t enough if you have no discipline and self-awareness.
- Tell us something about your school that makes it special. This is the only university of science and technology in my country Tanzania.
- Can you tell us what you would like to do with your degree once you leave school? I hope go and apply my school knowledge in different industries or hospitals. To rise poor kids like I was is my job.
I hope I have try to answer the questions good. Send my greetings to all my aunts and you mama. I love you all.
Jeni has finished her first year at the university and will be returning to classes in 2023. She is still enjoying her studies, although she says it is really hard sometimes. Her grades are really high. She took solid B and B+ grades from her first semester and has turned them into a whole lot of A and A+ grades. Her overall average for the year is 3.7, which is amazing. Of you recall, she should still be in secondary school right now!
Jeni has sent us a post-secondary application, and we have attached her answers to the questions below. We love her thoughtfulness about some of the answers and we hope you’ll take the time to read them. Jeni has always been a very special girl, and now she has grown into a very special young woman.
We wanted to include her actual answers in her hand, but they may be a little hard to read, so we have also typed them up here, so that you can read them more easily. We just like seeing her actual handwriting in answering all these questions. She put a lot of effort into this, and we are really proud of that effort. Writing it all out is even more effort. We look forward to supporting her university career!
SECTION 1: YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCES
- Describe an attribute or quality that you feel makes you special or distinguishes you.
- Tell us about someone you admire and why you admire this person.
- Describe an experience from your life that changed the way you think about the world around you.
- Tell us about a challenge you have faced, and how you overcame it.
1. An attribute or quality that makes me special or distinguishes me; just an authentic smile, a hand in solidarity and support, a willingness to listen when someone wants to speak. All these little acts of kindness trigger the release of oxytocin in my brain, the “Love Hormone.” Hence why the very act of selfless giving is rooted in me as feeling good as well.
2. I really admire Barack Obama. With compassion comes respect, love, understanding, and trust. He has compassion for everything he does and has. I admire him.
3. The experience that brought a change in me perceiving the world: people will praise you only if you are successful, and will always blame you for your failures, no matter how tough you try to cope with the negatives. What I learned was the perception of human trials which I guess is there with everyone. People will always be there to show sympathy with your failures, but then sympathy is not what everyone craves. Confidence and belief is something which a person craves for in failures and tough times. In respect to that I believe that failures do shape you to take yourself and judge yourself and work to gain success in your life. Life can’t be a cake where everything goes according to your manner, it takes going way beyond your comforts to achieve your desired goals in life.
4. I faced a test of anxiety and loneliness. I overcame this challenge by just managing my time, learning study skills and fine participation in class for discussions.
SECTION 2: YOUR INFLUENCES
- Who has been your biggest influence and why?
- How has your education contributed to who you are today?
- How has your involvement in your community and/or school activities contributed to your personal growth?
1. My biggest influence has always been my mother. From the minute I was born she has always been my best friend, guiding me and teaching me, and giving me strength every step of my life.
2. Education has contributed a lot to who I am today. Education has developed a problem solving skill to myself. Through education I can now make sound decisions on various quandaries. Education has introduced empowerment to myself. Education makes me able to stand up against gender bias and marital violence as I have improved my decision making. Also education has abled me to bridging the borders. I am able to communicate, widen horizons and helps me understand and appreciate each other
3. The education I have has lessened the challenges I face in life. The more knowledge I gain the more opportunities opens up to me to achieve better possibilities in personal growth.
SECTION 3: YOUR CAREER CHOICE
- Why do you want to get a university education and what career are you planning to study for?
- Why are you interested in this career?
- Describe your goals for your future. How will this course of study help you reach those goals?
- How will this career help your community?
- Why will you be good at this career?
- How will your university studies help you reach your career goal?
1. The university education helps me based on what I am aiming to do. I am planning to study biomedical equipment engineering. Thus, the university helps me to get more knowledge on this career.
2. This (biomedical equipment engineering) is a career that comprises many things. This helps me get in different places from hospitals. In this career I get more knowledge like electrical engineering and mechanical engineering too.
3. I want to become a person that helps people in the community that are physically and mentally okay plus the patients in hospitals too. This course of study helps me to prove to the society that even girls and women can.
4. This career will help to explain to the society that not only boys and men can but if they decide to leave their poor beliefs it will help to improve the community in a fast way and bring good results. Gender discrimination should be abolished.
5. It is better for me to be good in this career as I am dealing with the patients indirectly. Dealing with all the equipment that was for support for the patients. Making sure that they are maintained and used in a well mannered way.
SECTION 4: CHALLENGES
- What kinds of challenges do you think might occur for you during your studies (for example: school work, your life, your family, your health, etc.)?
- Describe how you might respond to some of these challenges so you can continue studying.
1. The challenges that I think might occur during my studies, I’d rather not say I am a hundred percent sure. Challenges like health problems and lifestyle challenges. I am studying in a region that is among the coldest ones here in my country. The weather reaches 4 degrees C. So, health problems like cough and pneumonia. About the lifestyle, in school is about all your decide. If you decide to be with a bad group and friends, it will lead to a bad lifestyle.
2. I will use good prevention methods against the cool weather. It will help me to have or maintain the good health. It’s my job to choose good friends that have good plans and futures to work for. Who also understand well what makes them be at school.
SECTION 5: THE FUTURE
- Describe your goals and where you imagine yourself to be in life in the next three years, five years, and 10 years.
- How will you use your education and your career to help other girls and women with their education?
- What do you think is the biggest challenge to your community, and if possible, how could you help your community overcome this challenge?
1. I want to become an engineer basing on biomedical equipments. After three years I imagine myself to be joining my first year of biomedical equipment engineering degree. In the next five years I will be at the third year of my degree, that will take me four years. In the next ten years I wish to be studying more phototherapy medicines. Basing on a certain company like Phillips.
2. There is still a gender equality and gender discrimination problem in the community. Many illiterate parents with poor thinking capacity and poor beliefs on gender make things become worse in the society. They think that making a girl educated is a worse thing, only boys are the ones to get educations and are the controller of everything in the society. The work of women is just to take care of the family after being married. My education will help to prove all the thinking capacity of illiterate parents that is wrong. Girls should have equal opportunities as boys in the community.
SECTION 6: THE SCHOLARSHIP
- Why do you think you should receive this scholarship? Tell us about you, not your family’s economic or employment circumstances.
1. I may say that if not for the scholarship I may not be able to reach my goals. I may not be able to help the patients. I may not be able to prove that my society is wrong. The scholarship gives and shows big support to me. Also through this scholarship I will be able to raise other girls in the community in a better way. I wish to have more knowledge on different things. Through this scholarship I may be able to gain more things.
JULY and AUGUST
We have so much news about Jeni! She is doing so well in university, even though there have been some challenges. She’s homesick and the weather in Mbeya is not to her liking (too cold sometimes!). Her computer was stolen, probably by her roommate (she’s getting out of that situation soon). And the classes are hard! But she loves it, she’s doing really well, and she has some wonderful friends. She is in a 4 year program, so she has 3.5 left to go. In her most recent grade report for the end of her first semester, she received all B and B+ marks. We are impressed, but she was not happy with that and “hopes to turn all my B and B+ into As.” We understand that grades are important, but we’re really impressed with those grades. She’s in the university two years before she normally would be, is living far away from home and friends, and is studying a very hard subject!
Jeni is studying engineering, and she’ll have to decide on a focus at some point soon. She talks about biomedical engineering, and she’s taking classes right now in computer and electrical engineering. For now she is really enjoying her classes. In a letter she sent to Christa at the beginning of the year, she wrote (in very improved English!):
For this time I have started my studies, and am so happy to study Biomedical Engineering. This is my second week to attend classes and teachers are seems to be hardworking.
I live in school campus. There are dormitories to some of students. I meet some new friends that I use to share with them the same room. I send for you the picture of my roommate including me.
I meet my friend that I studied with her in the same secondary school, and we are in the same course of Biomedical Engineering her name is Virginia, and I meet with someone like my brother that he helped me during registration period and orientation of knowing University. His name is Given.
(I turns out that Jeni’s roommate wasn’t so great, and Shannon and Greg are working to get her moved, but she needs to stay on campus until autumn. That’s coming soon, so hopefully there will be some good news in a few months.)
We received some wonderful photos of Jeni, her university, her friends, and her classes. She is just thriving, and it is still hard to equate this lovely young woman with the little girl we got to know more than a decade ago. We’re still waiting for her to send us her post-secondary scholarship application, but we aren’t worried. We’ll support her as long as we need to!
Jeni has received an extraordinary offer. She did so well in her classes and on her Form 4 exam that she was offered the chance to go straight to the university. Although Greg and Shannon were a little concerned that she is too young to do this, Jeni carefully explained why she wants to do this.
Jeni wants to study engineering, and there is no national standard for the Form 5 and 6 curriculum that includes physics, and the other classes she needs to go into engineering. In fact, the quality of Form 5 and Form 6 education is so poor that there are many students who are graduating from Form 6 with terrific grades, and not getting into university. So Jeni will be starting university in October!
She will be attending the university in Mbeya, near the border with Zambia. Although Greg and Shannon feel that her engineering education might not qualify her to pass exams to work in other countries, they are confident that she can take some remedial courses to catch up if needed.
Jeni will be applying for a post-secondary scholarship from ONE, so we will be staying in touch with her as she moves forward.
Jeni received the results of her Form 4 exam. She scored high enough to be in Division One, the top 1% of all students in Tanzania! We are so proud of her. She will be able to take any number of paths at this point. She is currently taking “bridge” classes to keep her busy over the next few months while she prepares to start her next program. She will enter Form 5, but we will not know where she will be studying for a few months yet. At that point, she will also need to make a decision about the direction she wishes to go, so we will find out about that later this year.
Our contact Shannon visited Tanzania early in the month and was able to visit with all of our girls, who have just entered Form 4. This is a particularly important year. At the end of the year, all the students will take a national exam to see if they move on to Forms 5 and 6. Many, many students do not, which means they are done with their education, and have to find work that will accept them with only four years of secondary study. We have high hopes for Jeni, as she is doing really well in school, and working hard. She sent us a wonderful card, which we have included here.
Jeni turned 16 this year, and she is really growing into an amazing young woman. She had a little trouble when high school started, as she was getting very interested in boys, and was neglecting her studies a bit. But she is more than on track at this point! She received her Form 2 exam results and she got the highest scores of all the students, which places her squarely in Division 1, the highest division! This will open up so many opportunities to her, and we’re really excited for her.
We received some photos from Shannon’s most recent visit, and it’s really easy to see what a beautiful woman Jeni is becoming. We’ve also included her letter from partway through the year.
Shannon and Greg went to Tanzania in January. It was Greg’s first time back in more than a year, and he says all the girls are growing up so fast. They are all lovely young women now. He sent a couple of pictures of Jeni to us, and we can hardly believe how grown up and beautiful she looks. There is hardly a hint of the little girl we met even three years ago. She is doing well in school and thriving, which we are happy to hear.
Shannon finally made it back to Tanzania to visit the girls, and we are so delighted to hear her news. She says that both Jeni A. and Jeni Joseph love being at St. Theresa’s in Mwanga. Jennifer says that her teachers call her the class president. She will almost certainly run in future years if she stays at that school and follows this mindset. Academically, their teachers report good progress, and we will wait to see what the midterm report shows in a couple months.
Shannon sent us a couple pictures of the girls. They are so beautiful, and it is so wonderful to see them looking happy.
We have received some wonderful news from Tanzania. After a lot of upheaval at the orphanage, all our girls have been removed from that situation, and are living in different places in town. Some are living with teachers, some with their families again, and some at a hostel that our friends Greg and Shannon are running. The difference in the students’ performance in school has been stark: they are all doing so much better, and are so happy. It is a very good thing to hear!
Jeni A. passed her exam to enter Form 1 (like 8th grade in the U.S., but considered secondary school). She got really good results, enough to enter the best school around, but our contacts Greg and Shannon told us that they prefer her to go to an associated school, St. Theresa’s. They feel it will provide her more structure, and we trust their thoughts on this. St. Theresa’s is a boarding school in Mwanza, which is about 90 minutes from Moshi, so Jeni will be living there.
For her year end letter, we asked her to tell us what talent or skill or gift she has that she can offer to the world. Here is her letter to us. She says that her skill is to be an artist and that she’d like to teach it to others. We hope she can do that, and we wish her the best of luck in school next year. We have no doubt she will do very well!
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Jennifer. Our contacts did send us some letters last year, but apparently they got lost in the mail, which is very sad. We hear that things are still a bit hard at the orphanage, because of the upheaval in leadership. But Jeni is striving ahead, and doing OK in school We received a letter from her in May, and we’ve attached it here for you to see. We had asked about challenges that they have in school, as well as a few other things. We hope you enjoy it!
It was a delight to finally meet Jennifer during my visit in December of 2014. Jeni is tall and beautiful, and very sweet. According to Greg, she “always does the right thing,” even if she gets grief for it, and she doesn’t always understand why other people don’t do the right thing. The other girls at the orphanage kind of see her as mom, so that is a double-edged sword for Jeni. They go to her when they need things, but also feel a bit separate from her. In our conversations, she said she wants to teach grades 4, 5, 6 and 7. She says they can pay attention and think, but are not as troublesome as the high schoolers. She is one of the originals at the orphanage, so she is also very tied into what is going on there.
One day, Jeni asked me to sing her a song, and so I sang her the first verse of “You Are my Sunshine.” Then I asked her to sing me a song. She and her friend Jennifer Japhet (Jeni 3) sang this lovely song in Kiswahili.
Jeni and several of the other girls performed a dance routine to help one of the volunteers, Paola (from Germany) with a movie she was making. One of the girls designed all the outfits and they came up with the choreography on their own. At the last dance, a bunch of the other kids from the orphanage joined in, as the song is apparently a very popular one there in Tanzania. Jennifer is wearing a blue shirt and blue skirt and black and white polka dotted tights.
With the help of our friend and contact Shannon, I was able to interview the girls about their lives and school. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to get the audio to work on the first half of the video, so here’s the second half! Even without the first half of the video, you can see their personalities shining through, and see how much their English has improved. When they started at St. Louis English Medium School, they hardly spoke any English at all. They are a little shy about it, but once you get them going, they are pretty irrepressible!
Jeni’s grades this year weren’t as good as they have been in the past, but she is still doing very well in school, and has moved easily into sixth grade. The next year of school begins in February of 2015.